Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sunday Afternoon at Windsor Castle

Our couple friends from San Francisco came to visit us for a week! On their agenda included: catching up with their married friends ie) Lily and Keenan, Oasis concert at Wembley x 3 (including one evening where they were drenched in rain, beer, and “golden showers”), and visiting an English castle. When my friend said she wanted to see a castle, of course, Windsor came to mind! So I went on thetrainline.com and booked us four return tickets from London Waterloo to Windsor Riverside for a Sunday outing to Windsor. Keenan joked that he should call his Sundays – Medieval Sundays, having visited the medieval town of Brugge the Sunday before. Maybe we’ll head out to the medieval coastal town of Rye next Sunday just for fun. =)

A bit about Windsor Castle. Together with Buckingham Palace and Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Windsor Castle is one of three official residences of Queen Elizabeth II. Apparently, Windsor Castle is the oldest inhabitable castle in the world, and Her Majesty spends many weekends here hosting both private and official state events. The castle itself was built some 900 years ago, and was restored after the disastrous fire in 1992.

Before touring the castle, we crossed the River Thames to the town of Eton, famous for the Eton College, a prestigious boarding school which graduated some eighteen British Prime Ministers since it was established in 1440. Other than Eton College and taking a few photos on the bridge, there isn’t much to do on the northside of the river.

Across the river to the charming village of Windsor, we stopped for quick lunch on the High Street before making our way to the ticket counter, through security, and finally to the courtyard of Windsor Castle. As expected, the lawn and rose gardens were perfectly manicured and the grounds were all well maintained – indeed fit for a Queen! Once inside the castle walls, there is a pathway guiding you through the public part of the castle. The Eastern Terrace is strictly off limits as this is the Queen’s private residence.

After wondering around the grounds of Windsor Castle, we went into another queue to see Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, which was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyen (as in Delhi’s Lutyen) at a scale of 1:12 and towers over three feet tall. Let’s just say that if you don’t fancy dolls, you won’t fancy this dollhouse. It’s quite disgusting knowing how much the Royal Family spent building this ridiculous dollhouse, although I do appreciate the level of detail thanks to Sir Lutyen. Next, we visited the State Apartments, which is a showcase of art galleries, family portraits, armors, craving, old furniture, chandlers, the King’s Drawing Room, the Grand Reception Room, etc. I think opulent pretty much sums up the decor of the State Apartments. The tour ends at the beautiful St. George’s Chapel, the resting place of George V and Queen Mary.

We took a break at the Windsor Royal Shopping Center for coffee and tea before taking a train back to London where one of our friends continued his journey to Wembley Stadium for his third Oasis concert in four days. But lucky him, no rain forecasted, just beer and maybe some “golden showers.” It’s always a pleasure to have friends visit!

Cheers! Lily

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